Doctors Call for UK Gambling Ad Ban During COVID-19 Lockdown

  • Group of leading medical professionals expressed their concerns in letter to The Times 
  • They fear spare time, financial pressure will lead to rise in gambling rates during lockdown
  • All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm also pushing for ad ban
  • BGC opposed request, maintaining that activity has plummeted since COVID-19 outbreak
seated person holding smartphone which reads enter to win
Leading UK doctors are calling for the suspension of gambling advertising amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Medical professionals make an urgent plea

A number of leading doctors across the United Kingdom are calling for the banning of all forms of gambling advertising while the coronavirus lockdown continues. 

too much spare time and a lack of distractions”

A group of distinguished doctors came together to write a letter to The Times expressing their concerns. The letter said: “Too much spare time and a lack of distractions during the lockdown have placed many more people at risk of gambling beyond their means.”

Among those calling for the gambling sector to “realign its moral compass” is British Medical Association chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul and the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Wendy Burn.

Concerns about gambling addiction levels

There are concerns that the number of problem gamblers will increase while isolation remains in place. Already, half a million people in the UK have gambling problems and another two million suffer from gambling-related harm. 

The chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm, Carolyn Harris, has also called for gambling ads to be banned for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Many politicians in the UK have been pushing for gambling advertising restrictions, such as sponsoring soccer teams, for some time. 

An NHS treatment clinic in Leeds that focuses on helping problem gamblers also has fears that there will be a “new wave” of gambling addiction. This is because people have a lot more free time as well as stresses over job and financial security. Also, with the cancellation of sporting events, many people will likely turn to more addictive forms of gambling through online casinos.

The industry responds to the doctors’ request

The Betting and Gaming Council spoke to The Times in response to the letter sent. The representative body for gambling operators in the UK said:

There is not a shred of evidence to support these alarmist calls.”

It also maintained that the levels of gambling have actually “plummeted” during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Most sportsbooks have been starved of any decent sporting action due to widespread sporting event cancellations. They have been searching for new ways to get people betting, such as virtual sports and esports wagering, as well as directing customers towards online casinos and poker platforms.